Don’t waste money learning to paint.

Choose your painting medium according to your personality to avoid handing out cash for a lot of painting supplies you are probably never going to use anyway .

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My very first painting which still hangs on my wall today.

You’ve been wanting to learn to paint for a while.  Perhaps you’ve had visions of your own artwork hanging proudly on the lounge room wall and your friends and family throwing around compliments like “where did you buy that? or “love that, who’s the artist?”

But has something been holding you back from getting started?

Is it the thought of outlaying a heap of money on materials without really knowing what to buy or which medium is going to work best for you?

So in this article I am going to save you some time and money by explaining the difference between different painting mediums and giving you my recommendations as to the painting medium which would be the best for you to start with, according to your personality.

Oil Paint

Advantages of using oil paint are

  • It blends well
  • Slower drying than other paints which gives you plenty of time to get it just right.
  • Can be left for long periods of time before coming back to it.
  • Creates long-lasting artworks.  Many classic oil artworks are hundreds of years old.

Disadvantages are:

  • Many people don’t like the fumes from oil paint and the turpentine which is used to dilute it and clean brushes.
  • Slow drying times can be a pain if you are in a hurry to get your work finished.
  • Cleanup can be messy and turpentine difficult to dispose of.
  • Some yellowing can occur in paint layers with a high linseed oil content.

Oil paints are best for people with short attention spans or procrastinators.  You can attack your project in small pieces or leave it for weeks and keep coming back to it.  Oils are not for people who are in a hurry (like most of us, right)Oil painting, original art, tallebudgera, gold coast


Advantages of watercolor are:

  • Dries quickly.  You can finish your painting in one sitting.
  • No harsh chemicals.
  • Easy cleanup
  • Less wastage as paint can be re-wet on the palette
  • Transparency means colors can be changed by adding another layer.

Disadvantages are:

  • Takes more planning as underlying colors will show through
  • Not as easy to control.  Sometimes the paint will do it’s own thing and go where you don’t want it to go. (although this can also lead to “happy accidents”)
  • Paintings need to be worked light to dark which is the opposite to other mediums

Watercolours are best suited to people who are forward planners or, if when things start to go awry, you are willing to “go with the flow”.

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“Fisherman and Cat”


Soft Pastel

Pastels are kind of like painting with chalk.  Takes you back to your childhood a bit.


  • Very quick to work with.  I have run pastel workshops where students who have never painted before create a finished work in less than two hours
  • Pure, Vibrant colors.  The pigments in pastels are very pure with minimum binder being used.
  • No need for brushes, water or turps.  Great if you want to paint on the move.


  • It’s messy.  Remember the chalks.  The dust goes everywhere.
  • Pastel paper or board will only accept so many layers of “paint” so you are limited to the amount corrections you can make.
  • You need to be very careful with finished artwork so as not to smudge your work.  Fixatives can be used but they tend to detract from the pure colors.

Best suited to people who love to get messy, who like to travel or who need results fast.


Last but certainly not least.  The most versatile of all the mediums.


  • The most forgiving of any medium.  Mistakes are easily corrected
  • You can paint light over dark, dark over light or any way you choose.
  • Dries fast, super fast.  Allows you to add more layers in one sitting.
  • Colorfast and tough.
  • Hard to damage.  You can even wipe over your artwork with a damp cloth if it gets dusty.
  • Easy clean up in water.
  • Can be used like oil paint, watercolor or as a free-flowing paint which can be poured onto canvas.


  • Sometimes they can dry a little too quick which can make blending difficult, although you can add a retardant to slow down the drying process.
  • We don’t know how long an acrylic painting will last as they have only been around for 50 years or so.

Acrylics are great for people who are impatient to see results or are perfectionists and need to make changes often.  (Oh wait, that’s me)

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Boardwalk to Boat Sheds

You’ve probably guessed by now that acrylic paint is my favorite medium to paint with.  I’ve tried them all but always go back to acrylics.  You just can’t beat them for ease of use, toughness and versatility.

Next time I will share with you how to get the most bang for your buck when buying painting supplies.

jenny buchanan,jenzart,blue beach house art, mosaic artist, visual artist, painter,

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